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16 tips for producing effective video animations for your business and avoiding common pitfalls

We have produced dozens of animation videos for our clients, each with its own challenges. So we thought we would share some tips to help you avoid some pitfalls.

If you haven’t commissioned an animation before, or even if you are an old hand, we hope you’ll find something useful in the below. For instance, 150 spoken words = around 1 minute of video.

Costs and Commercial Considerations

  1. Agree a budget
    Be upfront with your production company about how much money you have to spend. It’s important so that you don’t get offered a Pixar scale project that you can’t afford. If you’re not sure of costs and quality, effective animation can start at around £10-15k and go all the way up to millions of pounds.
  2. Be realistic
    You may have seen a style of animation you like. Share these with your agency but also expect them to come back with very different suggestions for you. It could be that your preferred approach is impossible to make in the allocated budget.
  3. Stakeholders are all in agreement
    It’s not uncommon for an animation to be halfway through when someone higher up the chain of command suddenly takes an interest. Changes at later stages often cause delays and require additional budget. Ensure that everybody has approved the brief (you can write it with your agency) before work commences.

    Timescales

  4. Agree a timescale with your production company
    Deciding how long you have to make your masterpiece will affect the creative route taken. Rushing an animation lowers the quality, and often increases the cost. 3D and stop motion animation takes longer than other types as there are many additional steps involved. These usually cost more.
  5. Consolidate your feedback
    Multiple rounds of reviews delay the video and can be confusing as more versions are needlessly created. Use tools like Frame.io or Wipster.io to help consolidate feedback online using a single tool in a one place.
  6. Changes can incur cost
    You will most likely have been given an amount of time or cost for making changes to the animation. These aren’t significant changes, but minor tweaks. Any large changes, such as a new line in a script, will delay and cost more. We have re-recorded voiceovers after the script was signed off and animation commenced, always at additional expense.

    Pre-Production

  7. Key messages
    Define and agree the key messages up front. This guides your script and often the creative approach too. They can also be used to measure the success of the video after production.
  8. Creative
    Be open to challenges. The style of video needs to sit well with your brand. If you haven’t created animation before then this is a great chance to establish a house style. This doesn’t mean everything will be the same, but it can help set some consistency.
  9. Utilise your production company / agency’s expertise
    Your agency watches far more video than a you or a freelancer will ever do. They will have a wider experience of key messaging and scriptwriting, and will also have access to a wide variety of styles for your video from live action to 3D.
  10. Script
    Scripts for animation can vary greatly. These can be based on text on screen, through to a voiceover. If you write a script, then allow your agency to re-write it. Scriptwriting, especially for an animation, can change depending on the approach of the video and is a skill set you are unlikely to have. As a guide, 150 spoken words = roughly 1 minute of animation.
  11. One clear objective
    Make sure your video says at least one thing brilliantly. Videos, like websites, can have lot of information in them, but they should focus on delivering one key message. What’s the one thing you want people to take away after watching your video?
  12. To sting or not to sting
    If your video is being watched via an intranet, then do you really need it to have your company sting (branded intro) at the start?
    If the video is on YouTube, then don’t put the sting at the start, put it a few seconds into the video and inspire people with the first few frames. Remember there’s always a more interesting cat video to watch on another channel, so you need to engage people immediately.
  13. How long is too long?
    Keep videos as short as possible. If you need more time, consider making a series of videos. People don’t have the time to watch your 10-minute masterpiece, but may be happier with bite-size viewing. Remember that people tend to watch videos for longer on a mobile device and that there are millions of other videos competing for their attention.

    Post Production

  14. YouTube and subtitles
    If the video is going to be shown on YouTube or a system that supports caption subtitles, make sure you are provided with an appropriate subtitle file (often a .srt file). This will let you add subtitles on YouTube, rather than leaving their software to guess words, often incorrectly (Beware… this can be damaging to your brand if you leave it to Google).  If you ARE putting the video on YouTube then don’t add lower third text subtitles (i.e. text permanently laid over the video) as they get in the way of YouTube built-in multilingual captions.
  15. Youtube monetisation
    If you have are using a licensed piece of music in your animation then check your Youtube channel a couple of days after posting the video to make sure that their isn’t a legal claim against your music. Youtube is very clever and will listen to your music. If it sounds like a track from an artist or commercial stock library it may place adverts against your video it until you appeal and state that you have a licence.
  16. Video format
    Make sure you are supplied your video in multiple formats. For example 1080 HD (1920×1080) resolution (or 4k if that was specified) is YouTube and iPad friendly as well as Windows media compatible. MP4 and WMV file types are the most common, although WMV is Windows only and some production companies on Apple Macs struggle with this video format. MP4 is a business standard as it plays almost anywhere; from mobile phones, PowerPoint (2013 and above) to televisions.

Video animations are an effective communication tool and fun to make. If you want to see more then take a look at our video production page.

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